Wednesday, May 19, 2010


This post is off topic ~not exactly IT related but technology none the less.

I've always wanted a motorcycle but never really took the time to get a license or even learn how to ride one. Last  summer a female friend of mine signed up for rider training and soon afterwards bought a bike. I jumped at the opportunity to take a training course and I'm happy to say passed driver training and license exam. Since last summer I've been looking at bikes trying to decide what to buy.

Let me be the first to say your choices are almost limitless and choosing a bike is not easy. So many nice bikes out there and most, quite affordable. But I guess I should start by saying; before buying a bike or even thinking of one ~if you're married step number one is getting permission from your better half or at least bribery of some sort.

Next comes the hard part; choosing your ride. I looked at used bikes, looked at small bikes, sport bikes, touring bikes ~wow so many choices. In the end this bike caught my eye. BMW's G650GS

I liked its look and the fact its a street bike with an off road option. BMW places this bike in the Enduro category. Meaning its a street bike but can be used off road. It's engine size appealed to me I wasn't looking for something large not so much from a gas consumption but more from Insurance reasons. A smaller engine equals cheaper insurance.

I've only been riding it a few weeks but so far I'm loving it. This is my first bike therefore some of you may say you don't know what you're talking about. BUT for a first time bike owner I'll say this is an excellent choice. It's a nice smooth ride, extremely easy to handle and quite comfortable. I have not been on any long trips (not yet) but rides I've had were very good.

I love the fact it has ABS brakes I think this is an excellent feature especially for first time bike owners. And in my climate heated grips are sweet! The only other factory add-on I bought was a centre stand. Lastly I love the fact BMW offers a 3 year unlimited kilometers warranty with road side assistance.

If you're thinking about a bike and its your first, this one is an excellent choice. In fact my female friend who bought a bike last summer after our training rode it and now wants to switch to same model. She has a different BMW X-Country 650 but its higher, a bit larger (for her) and she says a little stiffer and for her harder to ride.

In any case I'm loving it and I would recommend this model to anyone looking for a first bike.

MacBook Pro Keyboard Illumination busted! (so I thought)

My employer recently provided a MacBook Pro 17" sweet machine! One of its great features is keyboard illumination. It really rocks in low lit areas or late at night while in bed. However after reinstalling Snow Leopard I ran into an issue or at least what I thought was an issue.

When I first got the laptop keyboard illuminated at all times and F6/F7 keyboard brightness function keys always allowed adjustments. After Snow Leopard reinstall keyboard illumination was no longer functioning and pressing F6/F7 did nothing; in fact on screen graphic showed a circle with diagonal line. I assumed I was missing a driver or something went wrong during reinstall process.

Immediately I googled the problem and found a few posts with similar issue however everyone posted "its working now and I don't know what I did to make it work" ~not very helpful!

So I thought I would post my experience in case others are pulling hair trying to figure it out.

It seems to me Apple has changed keyboard illumination functionality. Instead of always illuminating the keyboard and allowing F6/F7 adjustments at all times. NOW! and here is the important part you must be in a dark room before keyboard will illuminate AND allow any F6/F7 brightness adjustments. How I fixed my issue is I covered both speakers on either side of the keyboard (light sensor location). My screen auto dimmed and at this point I could use F6/F7 brightness function keys to full brighten the keyboard.

Uncovering both speakers auto brightened my screen, keyboard no longer illuminated and I could no longer adjust keyboard brightness using F6/F7 function keys.

If you really think about it that really makes sense because why would you need your keyboard lit when in a bright sunny setting. Simply a battery drain. I just wish this change in functionality was posted somewhere on Apple's site. If it was I missed it or could not find it. (I looked)

Hope this helps.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

E60% of US Managers will circumvent Company Security Policy!

I came across this article at Employees continue to put data at risk which talks about a study conducted by Ponemon Institute where it compares the "Human Factor" in laptop encryption. This year's study was expanded to include Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Sweeden. The most interesting and perhaps puzzling was the enormous difference between some European countries and their North American counterparts.
According to Ponemon Institute 15% of German and 13% of Sweedish business managers have disengaged their encryption solution. Compare this to 52% of Canadian, 53% of British and a whopping 60% of US business managers. WHAT??!?!? That's right sixty percent!

Let me get this straight corporations spend billions of dollars on all this fancy security software and 60% of US business managers turn it off. Why?? I'm sure reasons for doing it vary and there are as many reasons as stars in the sky but I'm willing to bet vast majority is simply convenience and I hate to say it required effort level to accomplish a given task.

North American's have always been a comfort driven bunch. Europeans have always been less extravagant in their lifestyles. I'm thinking environment issues like composting, recycling, driving much smaller and more fuel efficient cars. Much smaller housing and overall much smaller foot print on this wonderful planet. I'm guessing this attitude automatically translates well  to other work related situations including security. A little inconvenience for the greater good.

On the flip side we North Americans are quite the opposite we've always had a 'me' rather then 'we' attitude. We have larger housing requirements, larger cars, we produce the most waste per capita vs. other countries. If you need more examples look at waste management and recycling which has been flourishing in Europe for over 20 years (and I don't mean the basics paper,glass,plastic) Europeans have been recycling other items including food waste (compost) 15 years ago. The amount of landfill garbage they produce is minuscule as a percentage of their overall generated waste.

I guess what I'm saying is given the 'me' attitude we have in North America security will always take a back seat over convenience and required effort. We're just lazy! Will this ever change? I suspect it will but it will take time, lots of time. But given the growing global cyber attacks by governments and corporations things will get worse before they get better. And we can't afford such 'me' attitude much longer. 

Switching to Ubuntu 10.04

DavMail POP/IMAP/SMTP/CalDav/LDAP Exchange Gateway

I recently made the decision to drop Windows and use Ubuntu 10.04 as my primary office desktop. I've spent the last 6 months developing a new Open Source software training course therefore I've been fully immersed in Linux for many months (no GUI either strictly Ubuntu Server edition). Making the switch doesn't feel as radical a change now as it might have 6 months ago. Given Canonical recently released Lucid Lynx I decided to give it a try. Installing Ubuntu 10.04 was super easy and very quick, I must say I really like Ubuntu's new theme. Everything works well with one exception. My employer uses Exchange 2007 (typical office MTA) but for some reason Evolution refuses to bond in holy matrimony with Exchange 2007. It gives me an authentication error even though I know I'm using proper credentials. I've done some Google'ing and others seem to have similar problems. It seems this issue has been around for a while its not new with 10.04.

I know what you're thinking I could have used IMAP or POP and SMTP. Well no luck my employer does not have IMAP or POP enabled from the outside. (Yes I'm not on the internal network) don't ask for work-duty related reasons I'm behind the firewall but not exactly on the internal network. In any case I spent a few hours looking around for an alternative email client however Evolution seems to be the best choice and closest in functionality to Outlook. Not that I'm a big Outlook fanboy but much better then Microsoft's crippled OWA (remember I'm not using IE) Well I'm happy to say I found a great tool; not a replacement for Evolution but a solution to my problem. It's called DavMail.

DavMail is an email gateway; essentially its a Java application running on my local client. It connects with Exchange over HTTPS and I connect to DavMail over IMAP SMTP etc... and voila Evolution is alive and well with Exchange 2007. There are some quirks but so far its been working well. DavMail docs say it works with Apple's iPhone too. I'll play with it a while longer and report back. Thanks DavMail!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Canada blindly following MPAA and implementing US Style DMCA

Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights � Send A Letter To Ottawa To Stop The Canadian DMCA

The US Digital Millennium Copyright Act is perhaps one of the most hated pieces of legislation known to man. And Canada is blindly following in their footsteps. Last fall (2009) Canadian government held public hearings on this issue and by far majority of Canadians are against such draconian restrictions to fair-use and consumption of digital content. However lobby groups like MPAA have so much power and control over publicly elected officials (through their wallets) we as consumers don't stand a chance. The EU (European Union) caved and passed similar legislation in 2001. Now the EU is pressuring Canada to do the same.

When will these lobby groups realize hanging on to old business models is backwards thinking. Age of couch potato TV viewing are gone, consumers want choice how and when to consume. Moving forward digital media is where its at, if they opened their eyes and looked around they'd see that. MPAA should speak with their customers not take them to court. New technologies and devices like Apple's iPAD are perfect examples digital consumption of media is the future.

Canadians still have a fighting chance the Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights is fighting for us consumers. They've created a site where Canadian constituents can send a letter to their MP's voicing their concern over Canadian DMCA changes. Process takes 30 seconds; simply choose your MP, add your contact info and a letter is emailed to Prime Minister Harper, the opposition leaders and a number of other cabinet members. Here is the link

If you enjoy digital media and don't want a US style DMCA please send an email to your MP using above link.